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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Redditch United

Hudson (87)

Hednesford Town

McQuilkin (24)

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Mark Derricott



Rushall Olympic (A) 26.12.22

The Pitmen's regular consolation of late goals comes back to bite them once more at a freezing cold Trico Stadium this afternoon as Steve Burr's side are denied their first away win of the season by a late Lewis Hudson goal for hosts Redditch

Tuesday night's narrow defeat at Needham Market had set the Putmen back once more in their fight against the drop as they failed to build on last weekend's fine win over Stratford Town and remained at the foot of the Southern Premier League central table. Burr had been rocked by the news in midweek that the in-form Stanley Obinna Anaebonam had elected to move to Stourbridge after a seven-day approach from the Glassboys. Following this news and an injury to defender Keith Lowe in the Needham Market game, the Hednesford manager dipped into his contacts book once more to bring in loan pair Mark Derricott from Hereford and forward Niah Payne from Spennymoor Town. Derricott came straight into the side for today's game as one of two changes to the side from the one that had started at Needham Market as he replaced Lowe, whilst Tom Hewlett replaced the now-departed Obinna Anaebonam

Redditch started proceedings in ninth place in the table and were looking to complete a league double over their visitors after winning 1-0 at the RACE Stadium on the opening day of the season. Experienced manager Matt Clarke - who had allegedly turned down an approach from the Pitmen back in September to take over as manager - made two changes to his side from the one that had been soundly beaten 4-1 by Ilkeston Town last weekend as Yan Osadchyi, Murphy Culkin and Ryan Boothe all came into the side ahead of Adulai Sambu, ex-Hednesford man Calum Flanagan and on-loan Gloucester City man Danny King. Other ex-Pitmen on show for Redditch included former midfielder Reece Flanagan, whilst Cain Smith was amongst the substitutes for the home side  

It was a bitterly cold afternoon in Worcestershire, with Redditch's 3G pitch earning its keep with just a light brushing needed on the synthetic surface to remove the overnight frost on the pitch. The hosts were first to register a shot in anger in the second minute of the game as they worked the ball well down the left flank through Max Sheaf, whose low cross found the feet of skipper Robbie Bunn just outside the Hednesford penalty area. The former Bromsgrove Sporting man was quickly shut down by Kyle Bennett and lifted his shot high over the crossbar from eighteen yards out as he leant back to hit the ball first-time

The Pitmen started to find their feet on the artificial surface and strung several good passing moves together without testing Kieran Boucher in the Redditch goal. On five minutes, Lewis Ison and Todd Parker played a quick one-two down the right before feeding the ball into the feet of Bennett, who looked to play Leroy Lita in with an angled pass that beat the Redditch defence but was a little too heavy for the Pitmen's top scorer to run onto

In the ninth minute, Bennett controlled the ball well in the centre of the pitch as he brought the ball down and slipped the ball through to Hewlett with a delightful angled pass. The on-loan Burton man took a touch before attempting a shot from a tight angle that was blocked by Osadchyi and subsequently cleared by the home side 

Three minutes later, Hewlett took the ball down the right flank and pulled the ball back to Luke Rowe, whose attempted through ball back to Hewlett in the inside left position was cut out by Osadchyi for the Pitmen's first corner of the afternoon

The Pitmen were guilty of over-playing in the final third of the pitch on sixteen minutes as Lita laid the ball off to Parker, who close to try and change the angle of approach rather than shoot from twenty yards out, laying the ball off to Bennett who also took two touches too many on the edge of the penalty area and allowed Redditch to clear their lines

The visitors continued to look the more likely to open the scoring in the first quarter of the game, with a corner kick from Parker in the eighteenth minute drifting all the way to the far post where Luke Redfern could not quite get enough purchase on the ball to head it goalwards

The normally-solid Boucher - regarded as one of the best stoppers at this level - was guilty of a heinous error of judgement to hand the Pitmen the lead on twenty-four minutes; McQuilkin picked the ball up just inside the Redditch penalty area from Adam Livingstone and tried his luck with a low driven shot at goal that lacked power. The ball bounced towards the hands of the Redditch stopper, who somehow allowed McQuilkin's daisy cutter to squirm out of his reach and bobble over the goal line to hand the away side a fortuitous lead

More neat play from the Pitmen three minutes later saw Ison and Parker send Livingstone away down the left wing as he charged past Hewlett and Osadchyi. The Scotsman's lofted cross to the far post had a little too much air on it as both Lita and Bennett failed to get on the end of the ball at the far post

Redditch had looked limited in their approach in the final third, with Sheaf making a run down the left on thirty-two minutes and whipping in a dangerous cross that bounced inside the Hednesford penalty area but skipped away from goal and away from the clutches of the incoming youngster Harvey Gregson

Lita went close to doubling the Pitmen's lead on thirty-five minutes as he was left unmarked in the six-yard box to reach Hewlett's cross from the right but headed narrowly wide of Boucher's left-hand post as he stretched to reach the ball that was slightly behind him

Sixty seconds later, Redditch opened up the static Hednesford defence for the first time as long kick forwards from Boucher was flicked on by Mensah and put Boothe through on goal; however, excellent defending from debutant Derricott saw the teenager come across and do enough to put Boothe off, blocking his low effort in the process as Tiernan Brooks came out of his goal to meet the striker

With six minutes of the half remaining, a purposeful run from Gregson down the right saw him skip past two half-hearted Hednesford challenges before  crossing to the far post with a curling ball that had a little too much on it for Sheaf but did find Flanagan, whose scuffed effort was blocked again by Derricott

The hosts were finishing the half much the stronger of the two teams, with another excellent cross just begging to be turned home on forty-three minutes as Mensah's strong run down the right saw him pick up Sheaf's ball and send over a delightful cross that bounced in front of Brooks and drifted away from danger with no one in red able to take advantage once more

The Pitmen had given as od as they had got in the first half, enjoying plenty of the play in the opening half-hour of the game and taking full advantage of Boucher''s error to hold the lead at the break. The young central defensive partnership of Derricott and Redfern had done well against the Redditch attack and had snuffed out much of the danger to protect Brooks behind them

With Burr's words still ringing in their ears, the Pitmen started the second half well and controlled the tempo of the game to stop Redditch from making a swift start to the restart. Good play from Parker and Livingstone on fifty minutes saw them work the ball out to Hewlett on the left flank, whose curling cross into the near post was hacked clear by Culkin before Lita could react to the ball

Bennett became the first and only player to receive a yellow card five minutes later as an offside call against the forward saw him kick the ball away and earn himself a yellow card for time-wasting

Lita was gifted a great chance to add to the Pitmen's tally a minute later as lax play out from the back from Redditch saw Bennett pick up the loose ball and play Lita through on goal. However, his angled drive from twelve yards out was blocked by Ryan Wollacott and cleared for a Hednesford corner kick on the left flank

At the other end, Redditch went closer than they had done previously to levelling matters on fifty-eight minutes as neat hold-up play from Gregson saw him lay the ball off into the path of Hudson down the left. His low cross to the far post was met by Mensah from eight yards out, but with the ball a little too far in front of the former Watford striker, Mensah could only toe-poke his effort wide of the far post with Brooks beaten

Just after the hour mark, Brooks was called upon to make his first meaningful contribution to the game as Sheaf and Hudson linked up once more down the left to send over a cross to Flanagan, whose first-time effort was smothered by the on-loan stopper on his goal line

Hewlett had given Osadchyi plenty to think about with his contact pressing and hustling, getting the better of the Ukrainian midway through the second half and laying the ball off to Bennett, who again elected to take a touch too many and was crowded out before he could get his shot away eighteen yards from goal

Neat play across the field from Hednesford two minutes later saw Livingstone switch the ball from left to right and find Ison with a cross-field pass. The Pitmen captain did well to take the ball into the penalty area along the right-hand byeline but pulled his cross straight into the path of Wollacott rather than pick Lita out inside the six-yard box

Redditch made the first substitution of the afternoon on sixty-eight minutes with Boothe - who had got very little change out of the impressive Derricott - was replaced by King

You still felt that the Pitmen had control of proceedings as they continued to play the more expansive football going into the final twenty minutes. Lita was denied at the near post once more as Livingstone's angled ball into the box saw Lita make a run into the danger zone but saw Wollacott come across and put the ball behind for another corner to the visitors

At the opposite end, Brooks had to watch a looping header at goal from Bunn drop over his crossbar and away from danger after Flanagan's deep free-kick was headed up and towards goal by the Redditch captain, under pressure from Redfern

Former Hednesford man Smith - who made a handful of appearances for the club towards the end of last season after returning to England from the United States - was brought on by the hosts in place of Flanagan

Redfern did well to deny Mensah on seventy-nine minutes as he managed to stick out a toe and divert the ball away from the Redditch number eleven after good play from ex-Gloucester man Sheaf in the build-up

A succession of Hednesford corners took the sting out of Redditch's attacking instincts as the visitors looked to try and manage the game with it now not its final ten minutes, although some of their set-piece taking left a little to be desired, it has to be said

In a bid to shore up his flagging midfield, Burr made his one and only change of the game in eighty-four minutes as the experienced Kemy Agustien came on in place of Hewlett, who had run himself into the ground chasing down Osadchyi all afternoon long

Redditch used this to their advantage as they pressed the Hednesford back line in search of an equaliser, sensing that the Pitmen were now content to hold on to what they had. Sheaf's cross on eighty-six minutes was headed out by Derricott to Mensah, whose first-time effort lacked pace or power and ended up in the hands of Brooks

However, the hosts struck with their very next attack as they levelled the game up once more from a corner kick on eighty-seven minutes; Sheaf delivered a pin-point cross to the far post, where Hudson arrived to head home from close-range and bundle the ball past Brooks on his line

The worry now for the small band of travelling supporters was that their side would hand the momentum to Redditch in the final minutes as they started to leave gaps in and around their penalty area. With the game drifting into six minutes of added time, Gregson seized upon a bouncing ball just inside the Hednesford penalty area and struck a low shot at goal that was well-held by Brooks

The Pitmen were handed two chances in the remainder of added time to clinch the win. Luke Rowe's free-kick in the fourth minute of added time was stuck hard and true but curled inches wide of the upright from twenty-five yards out after Bennett had drawn a foul out of former team-mate Smith

With the final action of the afternoon, Lita was gifted a gilt-edged chance to win it for the men in white as Parker's corner kick from the left dropped to the striker at the near post, with the veteran nodding the ball towards goal but seeing his goalbound effort brilliantly saved by Boucher down to his right-hand side

It was a frantic end to a low-quality afternoon's football, with the Pitmen left frustrated once more at their inability to manage games through ninety minutes and take the points that they needed and perhaps felt that they had earned. They do, however, move off the foot of the league table for the first time in many weeks due to AFC Rushden & Diamonds having their game against Needham Market called off today but remain eight points from safety overall. Burr's men will look to earn themselves back-to-back home wins next Saturday when they entertain another mid-table side in the form of Mickleover, something they have not achieved since October 2020 when they beat Stratford Town and Bromsgrove Sporting in consecutive home games

Redditch United: Boucher, Osadchyi, Hudson, Sheaf, Culkin, Wollacott, Flanagan (Smith 75), Bunn ©, Boothe (King 68), Gregson, Mensah      Subs Unused: Rowbottom, Clews

Hednesford Town: Brooks, Ison ©, Livingstone, RoweDerricott, Redfern, McQuilkin, Parker, Lita, Bennett , Hewlett (Agustien 85)      Subs Unused:  Clayton, Hartley, Akinwe


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